The Asia Miner

OCT-DEC 2015

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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14 | ASIA Miner | October-December 2015 MINING and Process Solutions (MPS) has been awarded an ex- clusive licence for the GlyLeach Process, a leaching technology developed by Curtin University in Western Australia for leaching of base and precious metals. The rights cover Australasia, North and South America, and Asia, with options to expand to other countries upon satisfying agreed criteria. GlyLeach is an alkaline based process that will leach copper from copper oxide, mixed oxide and supergene sulphide ores, and even primary copper sulphide ores. It will also leach gold when the tem- perature of the Glycine is raised to 60 degrees. Process inventor, Professor Jacques Eksteen from Curtin Univer- sity's Department of Mining Engineering and Metallurgical Engineer- ing, said, "The process has a number of immediate applications in- cluding leaching of low grade ores, differentially leaching of copper and gold ores, upgrading concentrates, and tailings retreatment." The major reagent is Glycine, the simplest and cheapest of the amino acids, and is available in bulk ranging from food grade to technical grade. It has a number of attractive chemical and physical properties that gives it signifcant advantages over other copper or gold Lixivants: • It is an environmentally safe and stable reagent. It is biodegrad- able and easily metabolized in most living organisms; • It is active as a selective leach agent only when used in an alka- line based circuit between pH 8 and 12; • It provides a step change in copper leaching with enhanced sol- ubility of copper ions in aqueous solutions and forms stable com- plexes with copper. The work undertaken at Curtin University has shown it is a very effective leaching agent for almost all copper minerals apart from Chrysocolla, a copper silicate mineral; • It is easily recovered and recycled. Apart from normal process losses (usually expected to be less than 5%), +99% of the Gly- cine is recoverable. MPS technical director Frank Trask says it is a simple process that requires no new equipment to be designed, has low operating costs due to regeneration of principal reagents, and is expected to provide high copper recoveries with almost all copper minerals even Chalcopyrite; long considered the 'Holy Grail' of copper leaching. It will also offer the gold industry a non-toxic method of leaching gold, something that is becoming more important in many jurisdictions. MPS managing director Ivor Bryan said the addition of the GlyLeach Process was an important addition to the portfolio of technologies it had assembled and could support. MPS also had exclusive agency rights in Australasia for Continuous Vat Leaching (CVL), a Canadian developed mechanical leaching process, and it was expected that the two technologies would be synergistic for a range of deposits. MINING in space may be years away but the countdown has start- ed and several companies are now seeking to be the frst miners in space. Asteroid mining may sound like science fction but in fact, modern-day sci-f flms such as the Alien series and Moon, and a myriad of sci-f books use interstellar mining as a background set- ting for their narratives. In the near future, mining in space is likely to be no longer restrict- ed to works of fction, according to a recent edition of Sandvik's 'Solid Ground' mining industry customer magazine. More and more companies - such as Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries - focusing on mining large asteroidal specimens have popped up recently. Their goal: to fnd cost-effcient ways to access the precious resources within these foating cash cows, whose potential yields are estimated to be in the trillions of dollars. Asteroids, the rocky-metallic bodies left over from the formation of the solar system and still orbiting the sun, are replete with water, plati- num, nickel, cobalt and other minerals and elements. While the benefts of mining scarce minerals such platinum are obvious, at the same time, the water within asteroids can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen for fuel and left in orbiting caches in space, solving one of the great problems of space exploration - fuel availability. Accessing these foating deposits is another matter entirely. The three most logical options for mining involve: 1. Bringing raw asteroidal material to Earth for use. 2. Processing the asteroids in space and bringing back only the desired materials. 3. Transporting the asteroid into a safe orbit around the Moon, Earth or International Space Station. And because not all asteroids are created equal, there's also the problem of determining which ones are even worth mining. Planetary Resources is attempting to solve this issue with space telescopes, small spacecraft (30kg to 50kg) that employ a laser-op- tical system which can be used to survey and examine near-Earth asteroids. Recently, the company placed a small version of the telescope aboard the Antares rocket on an unmanned mission in October 2014 but the rocket exploded seconds after lift-off, destroying the cargo. There is still a long way to go before asteroid mining is common- place but the frst small steps are being taken, and more likely than not they will end up being giant leaps forward. Licence for novel leaching process Theoretically, there are many ways to extract essential elements from as- teroids, including strip mining, shaft mining, heating and magnetic rakes for mining heavy metals. Mining in space no longer fantasy

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